MANILA -- President Benigno Aquino III’s bid to end poll fraud in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) is still in sight after the Senate approved on Tuesday a joint resolution seeking to purge the area’s book of voters.
Joint Resolution 17, which was endorsed by Malacañang, is aiming for four things which are necessary for the Armm to be completely reformed, according to its co-author Senator Franklin Drilon.
Drilon said the government will be taking away the so-called “command votes” of “unscrupulous” politicians and the padded book of voters since only legitimate registrants will decide the fate of their leaders.
Said resolution, added Drilon, will also help end the reign of political dynasties that further put many Muslim Filipinos in poverty and neglect while opening the door for principled, educated and reform-minded leaders.
Under the resolution, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is authorized to suspend for the whole month of July 2012 the registration of voters in non-Armm areas so that it can redeploy its personnel and necessary equipment for the re-listing of voters in the Armm.
Money that will be spent for the re-listing of voters shall be charged against the savings of the Comelec especially after the postponement of the 2011 Armm elections, and contingency funds authorized under this year’s national budget.
The Comelec is also advised to resort to appropriate alternative methods of procurement under the Republic Act 9184 in acquiring the necessary equipment and other registration paraphernalia.
In filing the resolution, Drilon and 18 other senators who backed it up cited data from the National Statistics Office (NSO) showing bloated population figures in the region, which may have been used by some politicians for vote padding activities in the past.
The region’s population stood at 4.1 million in 2007, an election year, but a revalidation conducted by NSO three years later revealed only a little over 3.3 million people.
Population growth rates between 2000 and 2007 were also overstated with Armm growing by 5.46 percent during the period as opposed to the national average of 1.89 percent. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)